Category: Alumni

Lawrence Grad Anton Valukas ’65 Discusses Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy on “60 Minutes” Sunday, April 22

Lawrence University graduate Anton “Tony” Valukas, the court-appointed examiner in the historic bankruptcy case of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., speaks with Steve Kroft on this Sunday’s (4/22) edition of “60 Minutes” about the collapse of the firm that triggered the world financial crisis.

Anton "Tony" Valukas '65

In 2009, Valukas was appointed by a federal judge as the examiner for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy in United States history. As examiner, Valukas investigated the causes of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. After reviewing 34 million documents and interviewing nearly 300 witnesses, Valukas issued a seven-volume, 2,200 page report detailing potential wrongdoing by certain Lehman executives and Ernst & Young, the auditor.

Valukas, who earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence in 1965, is  chairman of the Chicago-based national law firm Jenner & Block.

Earlier this year, The American Lawyer named Valukas its 2011 “Litigator of the Year,” an honor that recognizes lawyers who have had “extraordinary results for their clients.” In its cover story, the magazine hailed Valukas as one of the “few heroes to emerge from the financial debacle of 2008.” It cited his 2,200-page, seven-volume Examiner’s Report as “a tour de force of truth-telling” and credited him with “untangling what caused a historic collapse that helped set off the broader financial crisis.” Bankruptcy Court Judge James Peck called Valukas’ report “the most outstanding piece of work ever produced by an examiner.”

Valukas will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Lawrence Sunday, June 10 at the college’s 163rd commencement and also serve as the ceremony’s principal speaker.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges by Forbes, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.  Follow us on Facebook.

Thomas Baer ’74 Receives Leadership Award from The Optical Society

Thomas Baer, a 1974 Lawrence graduate and executive director of the Stanford Photonics Research Center at Stanford University, was recently recognized by The Optical Society (OSA) with its Robert E. Hopkins Leadership Award.

Tom Baer '74

Baer was honored for his initiation of the idea of LaserFest and his leadership in making LaserFest an extremely successful worldwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first demonstration of the laser.

“OSA is proud to honor Tom for his leadership in the field of optics and photonics,” said OSA President Tony Heinz. “Tom has made major contributions to advancing the science and technology of light.  His accomplishments and commitment serve to inspire the next generation of optics researchers and educators.”

The Robert E. Hopkins Award recognizes an individual or group who has had a significant impact on the global optics and photonics community, or an individual or group from the optics and photonics community who has had a significant impact on society as a whole stemming from non-research-oriented activities.

The award seeks to recognize achievements that would not be eligible for a traditional OSA award or medal. The review process for each of these awards is rigorous as each nominee is carefully evaluated by a selection committee.  The OSA Board of Directors appoints a committee to oversee each award or medal selection process. The committee is then responsible for the evaluation of nominees and recommends the recipient to the OSA Awards Committee of the Board of Directors and the full Board of Directors for approval.

Recognized in 1994 with Lawrence’s Lucia Russell Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award, Baer has been awarded more than 60 patents. He is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and The Optical Society of America, an organization he served as president of in 2009.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges by Forbes, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.  Follow us on Facebook.

 

 

Chanticleer — “The Orchestra of Voices” — Performs April 13 at Lawrence Memorial Chapel

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Mike Axtell when the 12-member, all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer takes the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage Friday, April 13 at 8 p.m. for its 2011-12 Lawrence University Artist Series concert.

Tickets, at $30 for adults and seniors and $15 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 920-832-6749.

Mike Axtell '09

A 2009 Lawrence graduate, Axtell is in his second season with Chanticleer. The ensemble is widely known as “The Orchestra of Voices,” in part for a repertoire that spans 10 centuries, from Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and Romantic art song to contemporary music, jazz, spirituals and world music.

Now in its 34th season, San Francisco-based Chanticleer has long earned critics’ praises. The New Yorker magazine has hailed the ensemble as “the world’s reigning male chorus.” Winners of four Grammy Awards, including two for their world-premiere recording of Sir John Tavener’s “Lamentations and Praises,” Chanticleer was named the “Ensemble of the Year” in 2008 by Musical America and became the first vocal ensemble ever inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame that same year.  

“We’re incredibly excited to have Chanticleer on campus,” said Stephen Sieck, co-director of choral studies at Lawrence. “They combine the tight-knit blend of a four- or five-voice ensemble like the Hilliard Ensemble or The King’s Singers with the vocal prowess and flexibility of a much larger ensemble. Their ability to switch from Renaissance to Broadway and everything in between is exceptional.

“As professional men’s vocal ensembles go, this is like having the Berlin Philharmonic come to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel,” Sieck added.

A bass-baritone, Axtell studied in the voice studio of Associate Professor Karen Leigh-Post while at Lawrence, where he earned a degree in B.M. degree in vocal performance and a B.A. degree in theatre. As a student, he sang in the concert choir and performed in numerous theater productions, including the role of the prince in Lawrence’s production of “Cinderella.”

Axtell is the second Lawrence graduate to perform with Chanticleer, joining former member Gabriel Lewis-O’Connor ’04.

Beyond an exhausting performance schedule, which includes more than 100 performances around the world during the 2011-12 season, Chanticleer is dedicated to music education and outreach. For more than 20 years, the ensemble has offered master classes, lecture recitals and residencies to high school and college students. During their visit to Lawrence, members of the ensemble will hold a master class and work with the concert choir.

Since Chanticleer made its debut in June, 1978, more than 100 men have sung in the ensemble.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges by Forbes, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.  Follow us on Facebook.

Presidential Phonecast Creates Largest Alumni Event in Lawrence University History

Listen to the phonecast!

Using innovative technology, Lawrence University President Jill Beck conducted the college’s first-ever phonecast March 1, creating the largest alumni event in the college’s history.

Nearly 4,000 alumni, parents and friends of the college from across the country participated in a personal one-on-one conversation with the president.

President Beck conducts the college's first-ever phonecast with alumni and friends of the college.

During the 30-minute phonecast, Beck, who announced in February her plans to retire as Lawrence’s president in June, 2013, discussed her priorities for the final 16 months of her tenure and fielded nearly a dozen questions from callers in Washington, D.C., New York City, North Carolina, Boulder, Colo. as well as Appleton and Neenah.

The president addressed questions ranging from her proudest accomplishment to issues of diversity on campus and the relevancy of a Lawrence liberal arts education in preparing students for careers in today’s economy. She said her focus for the remainder of her presidency would center on strengthening Lawrence’s innovation and entrepreneurship program, improving athletic facilities, enhancing an emerging interdisciplinary film studies program and growing the Lawrence Annual Fund.

Beck was joined on the phonecast by Terry Franke ’68, chair of the Lawrence Board of Trustees, who, in response to a question regarding  the search for Beck’s successor, outlined the process and time frame for having Lawrence’s 16th president on board by July 1, 2013.

As part of the phonecast, participants were invited to respond to a series of poll questions related to institutional priorities, student recruitment and technology by touching appropriate keys on their phone pad.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.  Follow us on Facebook.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Murray ’75 Discusses Foreign Policy Challenges During Campus Visit

Christopher W. Murray, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo, discusses foreign policy issues facing President Obama in an address at Lawrence University as part of a three-day visit to his alma mater.

A 1975 graduate of Lawrence, Ambassador Murray presents “The Obama Foreign Policy: Challenges Past, Present, and Future,” Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in Thomas A. Steitz Hall of Science, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher W. Murray '75

Murray was confirmed as ambassador in August 2010 and joined the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville a month later.

During a 30-year foreign service career, Ambassador Murray has served the Department of State in positions around the world. Immediately prior to his ambassador appointment, he spent three years as the Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels. From 2004 to 2007, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and directed the evacuation of 15,000 Americans from the country during the summer war of 2006.

Other overseas assignments included four years (1999-2003) at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria as Chief of the Political Section and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, Algeria.

“Ambassador Murray has been at the heart of some of the most important areas of international politics, having been posted to the EU in Brussels, working on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation, and also serving in Beirut, Algeria and Syria,” said Claudena Skran, professor of government and Edwin & Ruth West Professor of Economics and Social Science. “As a Lawrence graduate and government major who speaks four languages, his career really exemplifies the value of his Lawrence education.”

Fluent in Arabic, Dutch and French, he began his career as a political officer in the Office of NATO Affairs and as country officer for Somalia.  He later oversaw Middle Eastern matters in the Office for U.N. Political Affairs.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence, Ambassador Murray earned a J.D. from Cornell University Law School.

In addition to his public address, during his campus stay Ambassador Murray will meet with students to discuss foreign service and international careers as well as visit classes in the anthropology and government departments.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Lawrence University Awarding Honorary Degree to Lehman Bros. Bankruptcy Examiner at June Commencement

Lawrence University graduate Anton “Tony” Valukas, the court-appointed examiner in the historic bankruptcy case of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., will be recognized by his alma mater with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree Sunday, June 10 at Lawrence’s 163rd commencement.

Valukas, chairman of the Chicago-based national law firm Jenner & Block, also will serve as the principal commencement speaker.

Anton "Tony" Valukas '65

Valukas served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1985 to 1989.  He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2009, Valukas was appointed by a federal judge as the examiner for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy in United States history. As examiner, Valukas investigated the causes of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. After reviewing 34 million documents and interviewing nearly 300 witnesses, Valukas issued a seven-volume, 2,200 page report detailing potential wrongdoing by certain Lehman executives and Ernst & Young, the auditor.

Litigator of the Year

Last month, The American Lawyer named Valukas its 2011 “Litigator of the Year,” an honor that recognizes lawyers who have had “extraordinary results for their clients.” In its cover story, the magazine hailed Valukas as one of the “few heroes to emerge from the financial debacle of 2008.” It cited his 2,200-page, seven-volume Examiner’s Report as “a tour de force of truth-telling” and credited him with “untangling what caused a historic collapse that helped set off the broader financial crisis.” Bankruptcy Court Judge James Peck called Valukas’ report “the most outstanding piece of work ever produced by an examiner.”

Valukas has been named one of the country’s leading litigation lawyers for seven consecutive years by Chambers USA, while Chicago Lawyer honored him as its “Person of the Year” for 2009. Last year, the Anti-Defamation League recognized him with its First Amendment Freedom Award.

“Tony Valukas is a superb role model for our graduating students and should be a very interesting commencement speaker for the entire audience,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck. “Not only is he a distinguished and nationally respected legal expert, he is a humanitarian, a man with a strong social conscience. He demonstrates a balance in life between high professionalism and concern for society that our liberal arts graduates should see in action, so they might consider how to achieve this balance in their own ways in the coming years.”

Civil and Criminal Litigation

Specializing in civil and white collar criminal litigation, Valukas’ extensive experience includes consumer products litigation, product defect and consumer fraud class actions, food contamination, mass accident and environmental claims as well as defense work with accountants, real estate developers and corporate executives in high-profile matters.

Valukas is a frequent presenter to global business and legal leaders on the financial, ethical and legal challenges facing the country, has been the featured speaker at numerous American Bar Association programs and has been published extensively.

“I was surprised and delighted when I received a call from President Beck advising me that the university was going to award me an honorary degree,” said Valukas. “This award comes from an institution that I cherish and which was instrumental in shaping my life.

“So much of what I have become is attributable to the education and insights I gained while a student at Lawrence,” he added. “I remember the faculty with respect and genuine fondness. They profoundly shaped my view of the world and my commitment to the community. For Lawrence to award me this degree is both humbling and an extraordinary honor.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in government at Lawrence in 1965, Valukas earned his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1968. He joined Jenner & Block in 1976 and was named the firm’s chairman in 2007.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Lawrence Trustee Nominated by President Obama to Department of Justice Post

A member of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees is among several individuals President Barack Obama has announced as nominees to key administration posts.

Bill Baer '72

Bill Baer, a member of Lawrence’s Board of Trustees since 2001, has been nominated for Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

A 1972 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lawrence, Baer is the chair of the Antitrust Practice Group at Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, D.C. He joined the firm in 1980 and was named a partner in 1983.

In his practice, Baer represents a broad range of companies in U.S. and international cartel investigations, mergers and acquisition reviews and in antitrust litigation.  He began his legal career in 1975 as a trial attorney for the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission and later spent four years (1995-1999) as the FTC’s director for the Bureau of Competition.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence, Baer earned a law degree from Stanford Law School.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Lawrence University Names Craig Gagnon ’76 Associate Vice President of Communications

Lawrence University has announced the appointment of Craig L. Gagnon as associate vice president of  communications. He joins the college to begin his duties on Feb. 6.

Gagnon earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Lawrence in 1976 and a master’s degree in communications from Syracuse University.

Craig Gagnon '76

During his 30-year career, Gagnon has held leadership positions in national and international integrated marketing communications firms in Chicago, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

Since 2008, he has owned his own brand development and marketing strategy firm in Cedarburg, providing research-driven strategic planning for businesses in a variety of industries.

“We recognize that the Lawrence reputation is a powerful and valuable asset that supports the institution’s educational mission as well as our admissions and development goals,” said President Jill Beck. “That’s why we’ve sought an individual with the depth of experience that Craig provides.”

Gagnon credited his Lawrence education for setting the foundation for his career success.

“The Lawrence model of individualized learning and liberal education prepared me to work confidently in a number of industries and adapt to a rapidly changing communications world,” said Gagnon. “The lessons I learned at the Lawrence London Center helped prepare me for international business and my work on The Lawrentian and at WLFM formed the basis of my work in media.

“I’m delighted that I can apply nearly 30 years of experience in integrated marketing communications in support of the university I love,” he added. “My Lawrence years definitely set the stage for an exciting career. I owe it a great deal and I look forward to repaying Lawrence for all it gave me as a student.”

Gagnon’s appointment comes in the wake of a new 10-year Strategic Plan launched by the college and designed, in part, to enhance Lawrence’s national profile and reputation and raise visibility for the college’s distinctive characteristics and areas of excellence.

The current president of the Milwaukee chapter of the American Marketing Association, Gagnon served on the Lawrence University Alumni Association from 1989-95 and is a former president of the LUAA Board.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

One Last Time: President Warch Delivers His Final Reunion Convocation

The following is a transcript of Lawrence President (1979-2004) Richard Warch’s final Reunion Convocation remarks, delivered in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel June 19, 2004.

I trust you will understand that I have anticipated this moment with mixed emotions for some time, and most especially in the last several weeks. In my recent letters to alumni, I’ve quipped that after Commencement, the final farewell event last Thursday, and Reunion Weekend, you could put a fork in me: I’ll be done.

That comment tripped rather easily off the word processor, but what began as an attempt to be lighthearted has taken on a greater and more poignant reality as the days have gone by. And so here we are — or at least here I am — for one last time. I’m pleased that this one last time is with Lawrence alumni and takes place in Memorial Chapel, one of the architectural icons of the campus. I’d like to take a moment to recognize with thanks the exceptional generosity of Dorothy Hoehn, who has provided Lawrence with the wherewithal to renovate the Chapel over the past decade and to thereby both retain its character and enhance its utility. We’re grateful.

President Warch, Reunion Convocation 2004

Though I’ll try to come up with a few clever quips before I’m done, I take seriously the fact that this is my final opportunity to speak with alumni as Lawrence president. Come to think of it, it’s my final opportunity to speak to anybody as Lawrence president, so settle down and buckle up.

Many of you have heard one or another version of my Valedictory remarks, which I have delivered 15 times over the past several months, coast to coast, north to south. For those of you who have not heard the speech, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Lawrence needs and deserves alumni endorsement and advocacy of its purposes and alumni support to further those purposes; liberal learning as professed at Lawrence in both college and conservatory is a powerful and life-changing, if often undervalued and misunderstood, brand of higher education, and it will thrive in the future to the extent that those who have experienced its virtues promote its persistence into that future. That’s the short version.

Here’s the shorter one: Give to The Lawrence Fund! Naturally, I have sought to be slightly more circumspect in conveying that message over the years and in recent months, but with 11 days to go, I say the hell with circumspection: Give to The Lawrence Fund! Or, as I put in a letter of acknowledgment to an alumnus I know pretty well: “Thanks for the gift. We can use the cash.”

Seriously, nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing the alumni donor participation rate return — after a two-year absence — to the 50th percentile. Again borrowing from the Valedictory, I’ve been sharing with alumni a profound proposition, prompted by the fact that about 67 percent of you have made gifts to The Lawrence Fund at least once in the past three years. And here’s the insightful and innovative idea: if alumni made annual gifts annually — that is a difficult concept, so let me repeat it: if alumni made annual gifts annually — our donor participation rate would be truly enviable. We stood at 47 percent as of yesterday, so I assume a number of you in the Chapel this morning have the power to put us over the top or know those who can; I urge you to do your part and to spread the word.

But enough on that topic. I’ve only got 11 days to go, so won’t have many more opportunities to make the predictable presidential pitch and didn’t want to let this one pass by.

Presidential proclivities

One of the consequences of being a college president for 25 years is that one tends to exhaust the repertoire of quips and quotations; tends to repeat oneself; becomes, at best, known for certain turns of phrase and, at worst, for certain rhetorical devices, alliteration being the petard on which I’m most often hung. Over the past several months, various folks have had the proverbial picnic providing parodies of my proclivities (did I mention alliteration?).

First, there was the faux issue of the student newspaper, entitled The LaWarchian, written by a gang of 19 merry pranksters from classes of the early 1980s. They called it “affectionate abuse,” and while I am pleased to acknowledge the adjective, I can assure you that the noun is accurate. Abuse it was.

Then, Greg Volk had a run at me at the Founders Club dinner on May 6, in a speech entitled “Never Can Say Good-bye” or, as he put it, “Never Can Stop Saying Good-bye,” which he likes to consider a terrific testimonial tribute (did I mention alliteration?) but which contained more than a few friendly jabs.

Next, Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester and former dean of the faculty at Lawrence, took his turn at giving me the business at the farewell event in Minneapolis last month, in which he said that it was a “great and good thing to speak of the values and virtues, not to mention the principles and purposes” that I’ve espoused over the years (did I mention alliteration?) and complimented me on being the “first college president to have his word processor retired by the editors of the Metaphors R Us website.”

Presidential prerogatives

And those are just from alumni and colleagues. The faculty — ah, the faculty — have had their own opportunities, which they have seized with reckless relish and devilish delectation, most often at the Senior Class Dinner. No faculty speaker, it seems, can concoct a set of remarks for that occasion that does not use me as a prop; a few years ago I was a physical prop and just a month ago a Photo-Shopped prop on a take-off of The Matrix called The LUtrix.

On the day the Board of Trustees selected me as the 14th president, Ed West [’32] took me aside and told me that I would be responsible for everything. Art Remley overheard the remark and told me that, as president, his grandfather, “Doc Sammy” Plantz, often did the shopping for the dining rooms.

That sense of presidential oversight and involvement with everything has certainly obtained for me over the past quarter century, but at least I haven’t received a letter from a faculty member resembling the one Professor of English W. E. McPheeters sent to Sammy Plantz in 1921 (he’d written on the same topic a year earlier, evidently to no good effect):

Dear Doctor Plantz:
The ivy has grown over my office window to such an extent that when the leaves are out almost all the light is barred from the room. I would be very much obliged if you would have this cut away. It ought to be done now, I presume, before the leaves come out. A great deal of filth from the vines as well as from the birds that nest in them has accumulated just outside the window of my office. Will you please have the man who cuts the vines clear this away also, as it is not only unsightly but insanitary.

But, if the faculty have not harassed me about overgrown ivy and bird droppings, the students have had their moments, often about food service or other matters that strike them as a perverse example of the Lawrence Difference. Their complaints are familiar, as I had the same ones when I was in college. Our culinary question was this: “How can we have leftover lamb when we never had lamb?”

The students have had at me on other fronts as well. Over the years I have found myself interviewed in the Coffeehouse by an undergraduate who seemed to be auditioning to replace David Letterman, have been the subject of ”The Warch Hour” on Trivia Weekend, have gotten roped in to singing “O’er the Fox” for a musical show put on by a student I had taught in Freshman Studies, and have helped students raise money for worthy causes by having whipped cream pies thrown at my face, being placed in a dunk tank, and other moments of a like sort, none of which were intended to honor the dignity of the office, to say nothing of bolstering the self-esteem of the 14th holder of the office. I’ve had my face plastered on t-shirts and on reunion postcards, usually with some clever slogan appended. And I’m not even going to touch the April Fool’s edition of The Lawrentian. My principal claim to fame in that annual effort is that I share center stage with Bert Goldgar in providing grist for the undergraduate humor mill.

Among the indignities I’ve experienced over the years are those that deal with my name. Last spring, a student asked me why I spelled it that way, and I had to confess that my mother had come up with that version by reading Rudyard Kipling’s story about Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. At least she didn’t nickname me Tikki.

Nonetheless, I have received salutations addressed to Ric with a c, sometimes with a c and a k. There are those who have, in a failed effort to feign friendly familiarity (did I mention alliteration?), called me Dick; actually, my sons Stephen and David often called me Dick, but that was when they were upset with one of my parental rulings. My last name has been spelled like the month or like a swampy area, and while one obsequious writer saluted me as The Distinguished Richard Warch — though that letter was postmarked from overseas and written by someone who didn’t know any better — my favorites are letters addressed to me — inexplicably — as Shannon Warch and, at the top of the list, and two times, no less, as Richard Worst.

All of which is to say that, after 25 years, I have come to the conclusion that to be the Lawrence president is to be treated like a piñata by the various constituencies of the institution. And I am pleased to pass these particular and peculiar presidential prerogatives (did I mention alliteration?) on to Jill Beck with my best wishes.

The lady with the Manhattan

Of course, not everyone taking a whack at the piñata does so with the intention to be humorous; not all the abuse is affectionate. I’ve certainly had reason to confirm Abraham Lincoln’s claim that you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

In the course of a quarter century, there is a high probability that you will make decisions or take actions that will irritate somebody, and over time, those somebodies can constitute a considerable crowd. But that comes with the territory, and while I have not become wholly inured to the expressions of such aggravation, I have tried to soldier on. The secret, as Casey Stengel put it, “is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”

There are, of course, some minor pleasures even here. As when one faculty member, with whom I had, shall we say, a difference of opinion, told me that he would outlast me at Lawrence and get his way eventually. I had the good grace not to remind him of that comment when he retired.

And then, of course, there are the alumni who, disagreeing with this or that policy or action, play the infamous “Not another dime” card. In these cases, the satisfaction comes from discovering, upon investigation of the donor rolls and records, that it turns out that most of them had not given the first dime, therefore mitigating the threat not to contribute another one.

Then there were the alumni who attended an event several years ago in the early stages of the dispute with the fraternities who passed out literature and treated the question-and-answer portion of the evening as a deposition of yours truly. I’m pleased to report that, a few months ago, following the settlement of that dispute, one of those alumni had the good grace and humor to stand at the question-and-answer portion of a farewell tour event to ask me if I would appreciate it if he didn’t ask a question, to which I replied in the affirmative.

I have many memories of alumni gatherings around the country, and memories especially of Reunion Weekends. The first time I took a tour to visit alumni was when I was serving as vice president for academic affairs and then-director of alumni relations Gil Swift [’59] took me to Chippewa Falls, Minneapolis, and Duluth. I had prepared a set of remarks, though when we got to Duluth for a mid-day luncheon gathering, only four women showed up, one of them from the Class of 1929.

We assembled at 11:30, and the member of the Class of 1929 promptly ordered a Manhattan. Hmmm, I thought, this could get interesting. In any case, with only four people there, I decided not to deliver my remarks but indicated I’d be pleased to respond to questions and have a conversation, at which point one of the women said, “I understand that there are coeducational residence halls at Lawrence, and will you please explain that?”

As I paused to contrive a response, the lady with the Manhattan piped up and said, “When I was at Lawrence, George Smith [I forget the name, but let’s say George Smith] got caught climbing through a window at Ormsby Hall [then housing women], and he and 11 sophomore women were kicked out of college.” She took a sip of her drink, and continued: “He went on to play football in Green Bay, and that’s why they’re called the Green Bay Peckers.”

Well, that defused any questions about coeducational residence halls and prompted me to think that Lawrence alumni were likely to be a lively and engaging group. I’ve not been disappointed. I’ve had wonderful visits with alumni since, but nothing to top that first encounter.

My first memory of Reunion Weekend dates from around the same time, when I was still the chief academic officer, and the alumni office assigned various members of the administration to serve as hosts for individual reunion classes. Margot and I were duly assigned and faithfully showed up and sat at a dinner table in Alexander Gymnasium with members of the class. At which point, the members of the class at the table promptly got up and moved elsewhere. It was not an auspicious beginning, though it has gotten better since, perhaps because we serve adult beverages and provide meals for some of the milestone reunion classes.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve welcomed over 20,000 alumni to this festive occasion and had the privilege and pleasure of conveying outstanding service and achievement awards to 158 of you, including the six this morning. I’ve enjoyed each of these celebratory weekends and appreciate the efforts all of you make to be here and to celebrate, appreciation that is shared, I might add, by the tavern owners along College Avenue, whose annual profits depend almost entirely on

Lawrence reunion weekends

I do want you to know that alumni — along with students, faculty, and friends — have also provided counsel to me over the past quarter century, leading me to realize that being a college president is the easiest job in the world: everyone knows how to do it and will cheerfully inform you of the fact.

Still and all, I look back on my Lawrence years and my interactions with alumni with gratitude and pleasure. I have heard your recollections of favorite professors and the ways in which your liberal education has served you long beyond graduation. I have derived reinforcement from you in appreciating the abiding value of Freshman Studies, and the transforming nature of a Lawrence experience.

Herding cats

I have embraced the traditions of the college; have promoted its special brand of liberal learning, in and beyond Freshman Studies; have acknowledged and sought to sustain and extend the contributions of a distinguished array of presidential predecessors; and have relished the opportunities to work with an assemblage of bright, interesting, engaged — if sometimes contentious — cohort of faculty members, the vast majority of whom I had the privilege of hiring and promoting.

Say what you will about the old adage that dealing with faculty is like herding cats, or that faculty are people who think otherwise, or that they are individuals, not to say independent contractors, who are not always amenable to “direction.” Indeed, faculty members sometimes respond to such direction like Bartleby the Scrivener: they “prefer not to.”

But, a feisty faculty is, frankly and for the most part, a first-rate faculty; that’s not, I’ll grant you, a causal relationship, but the traits are often paired. “Docile” is not a word I would apply to them, although on occasion “rebarbative” is (look it up!). But that too comes with the territory.

I know I’ll miss the company of such people and the stimulation they provide. They and those whom many of you remember from your Lawrence years carry the teaching and learning mission of college and conservatory forward with excellence, share the commitment to Lawrence and its purposes that you hold, and are a group I am proud to leave for Jill Beck.

The same may be said of students. To be sure, there are moments when their youthful behaviors whiten the hair, though at least those behaviors have not caused me to lose it (the hair, that is). At times one feels like the basketball coach who lamented “How would you like it if your job depended on a bunch of youngsters in shorts running up and down the court?”

But Lawrentians are a great group, and they achieve many moments of insight and accomplishment in their academic and creative pursuits. Observing the ways in which they grow and flourish in the college years is one of the great rewards of the job. I’ll miss them too.

Two years ago, when I was discussing my intention to retire with Harold Jordan [’72] and Jeff Riester [’70], then respectively chair and vice chair of the Board of Trustees, they told me not to feel dispirited if all that I might wish to see accomplished at and for Lawrence did not come to pass on my watch. That was good advice, though I am obviously pleased that the settlement with the fraternities has been accomplished and that the slate on that score is essentially clean for Jill Beck.

Leaving Lawrence

One often reads about departing college presidents who say that they’ve been in the job long enough, or that they have accomplished all they set out to do, or who leave for presumptively greener pastures. Clearly, whatever numerical figure one places on the notion of “long enough,” I’ve blown by it. And any college president who claims a completed set of accomplishments may have set his or her sights too low or may have served an institution without ambitions. However long one serves, there is always more to be done, challenges to be met, improvements to be made, initiatives to be imagined and undertaken. So while the tenure of a college president occurs in a fixed period, the job of a college president is ongoing. It is Jill Beck’s good fortune to have the chance to assume that ongoing job at Lawrence. And while other pastures may appear greener, the Lawrence pasture has been green enough for me.

Margot and Rik Warch, Reunion Convocation 2004

Leaving Lawrence is, of course, difficult and bittersweet. I will miss the place and its people and especially the good friends I have been privileged to make here. I have been deeply touched by the notes and letters of well wishes extended to me by many of you; by the expressions of affection and support I have received from our alumni and friends on the farewell tour — including the “affectionate abuse” provided by the 19 alumni who produced “The LaWarchian”; by the thoughtfulness of the emeriti faculty in honoring Margot and me at a lunch in April and establishing a book fund at Lawrence in our names; by the spirited farewell and gifts from members of the alumni board, who feted and serenaded me at their spring meeting; by the recognition and the gifts from India, Ghana, and Jamaica from the students in Lawrence International at their International Cabaret; by the magnificent result of the Thanks Rik! Campaign, to which many contributed so generously, that will establish an endowed fund to support Björklunden; by the parting recognition conveyed by Mortar Board with its Honorary Award conveyed at the Honors Banquet last month; by the LUCC recognition, the Hyde Park bench and the Lawrence letter jacket from the all-campus farewell on June 5; by the print of my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh quotation from the residence life staff, commemorating my proclivity for reading bedtime stories to students; by having the Lawrence rowing club’s new shell named for me and Margot and christening it a week and a half ago; by the plot of moon acreage given me by the women in Sampson House; and by the bench and a Winifred Boynton cartoon given to me by members of my administrative staff three days ago.

I am also pleased that David Heller [’80], a member of the first class I taught at Lawrence when he was a freshman, has returned to play the organ this morning. If you want to hear the Brombaugh Opus 33 in full voice and some smash-mouth music, I urge you to stay for the postlude.

I assure you that leaving Lawrence is a physical act, not an intellectual or emotional one. Lawrence will be much on my mind in the months and years ahead, and it will be the focus of and the inspiration for the writing I plan to do in that time. And as an added bonus, I know that Björklunden is only 20 miles away from our retirement home in Ellison Bay.

The years ahead

Finally, then, to John Reeve [’34], who chaired the Board of Trustees in 1979, and to Jeff Riester, Class of 1970, who chairs it today, and to others who served with them on the presidential search committee in 1979, I extend thanks for the opportunity.

And to all of you, let me leave you with this last word: There is a Celtic saying that goes “we are warmed by fires we did not build, we drink from wells we did not dig.” And so might it be said that we are educated at colleges we did not create. But we can stoke the fires, we can maintain the wells, and we can support the colleges, in the present instance this college. None of us created Lawrence, but all of us have benefited from it, and thus I hope will work to sustain and enhance the college for the benefit of those yet to come. For you are not only Lawrence’s alumni, but also its stewards.

To all of you who claim Lawrence as alma mater and who share my great regard for its values and for the important work that it does, thanks for your devotion to this special place and the support you’ve extended to the college and to me for the past quarter century.

I urge you to do the same for Lawrence and for Jill Beck in the years ahead.